EFL

Championship Review: Monk dodges defeat against former side, West Brom go top

By Sports Desk November 27, 2019

Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk avoided defeat on his first meeting with Birmingham City since being sacked in June as his side snatched a late 1-1 draw in the Championship clash.

Monk hit out at Pep Clotet on the eve of the match, accusing his former assistant of being "disloyal" for succeeding him as Birmingham's interim head coach in June.

The game finished all square after Kadeem Harris cancelled out Alvaro Gimenez's goal nine minutes from time at Hillsborough.

Elsewhere, West Brom regained top spot with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Bristol City.

Slaven Bilic's men cruised to all three points at The Hawthorns to leapfrog Leeds United, who had climbed to the summit with a late win at Reading 24 hours beforehand.

Preston North End lost ground on the automatic promotion places with a heavy 4-0 loss at Hull City, while Nottingham Forest put four unanswered goals of their own past QPR.

 

HONOURS EVEN AT HILLSBOROUGH

Wednesday's winless run now spans five matches under Monk, who was clearly keen to get one over on his former employers.

Gimenez found a way through early in the second half to give the visitors a lead somewhat against the run of play in Yorkshire.

However, Harris took advantage of some hesitant defending to snatch a point for Wednesday, who remain two points better off than their opponents.

WEST BROM KEEP UP THE TITLE PACE

Leeds put the pressure on West Brom with their win at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday and Bilic's men responded in style.

First-half goals from Kieran Gibbs and Matheus Pereira put the second-tier leaders on their way to an eighth match without defeat, the last four of those ending in victory.

Famara Diedhiou pulled one back for promotion-chasing Bristol City 10 minutes from time, but Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin made it a straightforward win for West Brom.

 

. @WBA respond and head back to the top of the table.

Here's how it stands after this week's fixtures! #EFL | #SkyBetChampionship pic.twitter.com/blMNWt6LW5

— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) November 27, 2019 PRESTON SLIP UP, FOREST CLIMB

Preston, beaten 1-0 by Derby County at the weekend, fell to back-to-back league defeats for the first time this season with a thrashing at the hands of Hull.

Jarrod Bowen made it nine goals in seven games with strikes in both halves, either side of a Josh Magennis penalty and Kamil Grosicki's strike from a tight angle.

Alex Neil's side are now fifth in the table and a point behind Forest, who punished 10-man QPR at Loftus Road.

Already 1-0 up through Tobias Figueiredo's header when Lee Wallace was shown a red card, Forest put their opponents to the sword with late goals from Lewis Grabban, Joao Carvalho and Alfa Semedo.

 

Full-Time: Hull City 4-0 #pnefc

The hosts take the points at the KCOM Stadium. pic.twitter.com/SItAyA66CZ

— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) November 27, 2019 VITAL WIN FOR WOODGATE'S BORO

Middlesbrough eased some of the growing pressure on boss Jonathan Woodgate with a 1-0 win at home to Barnsley, Ashley Fletcher earning his side a first victory in 11 matches.

Boro were in the relegation zone heading into the match at Riverside Stadium, but they held their nerve to edge past bottom-side Barnsley through Fletcher's 54th-minute strike.

Elsewhere, Blackburn Rovers climbed four places up the table with a Bradley Dack-inspired triumph against Brentford.

The in-form midfielder converted Stewart Downing's cross with 11 minutes played to make it three goals in two matches.

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  • West Brom 0-5 Manchester City: Gundogan guides Guardiola's side into top spot West Brom 0-5 Manchester City: Gundogan guides Guardiola's side into top spot

    Ilkay Gundogan scored twice as Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season with an outstanding 5-0 victory at West Brom.

    Pep Guardiola's side stretched their winning run to 11 straight matches in all competitions on Tuesday, a sequence that has again seen City emerge at the forefront of the title picture after a rocky start to the campaign.

    West Brom, then under Slaven Bilic, had been the last team to stop City winning when these teams met in mid-December, but Sam Allardyce's side were completely outclassed at The Hawthorns despite the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, the injured PFA Players' Player of the Year winner.

    Joao Cancelo's first Premier League goal separated a first-half Gundogan double, which Riyad Mahrez and stand-in captain Raheem Sterling added to either side of the break.

    West Brom's best spell came in the opening two minutes as City were penned in under an aerial barrage before countering through Phil Foden, whose low deflected shot was touched onto the post by Sam Johnstone.

    Johnstone was helpless from City's next attempt, watching the ball nestle in the bottom-left corner after Gundogan controlled Cancelo's long pass and finished expertly.

    The goalkeeper was then left awfully exposed for the second as West Brom defenders appeared to stop playing when Bernardo Silva was flagged offside. Cancelo had time and space to pick out the top-left corner with a gorgeous finish and the offside decision was overturned following a VAR review, meaning the goal stood.

    Gundogan pinched the ball from Romaine Sawyers and slid a left-footed effort beyond Johnstone before the half-hour mark, and it was 4-0 heading into half-time as Mahrez moved inside from the right and lashed past the keeper.

    The same pattern of play continued following the restart and, although Rodri's blast clipped the crossbar, City only had to wait until the 57th minute for Sterling to turn in Mahrez's first-time cross, finally then easing up slightly to spare their struggling hosts further punishment.


    What does it mean? City on top in epic title tussle

    In leapfrogging rivals Manchester United, who play Sheffield United on Wednesday but will grant City a game in hand, Guardiola's men became the ninth team to lead the table at the end of a day this season.

    If City can maintain this high standard, though, the run-in might be a little more predictable. Even without De Bruyne, the four-time Premier League winners look back to their very best.

    Ilkay in top form

    City will surely miss De Bruyne as he faces up to six weeks out, but they have now won both of their league matches without their talisman this season, scoring six and conceding none.

    His absence on Tuesday allowed those stars who have made up the supporting cast in recent weeks to come to the fore, including Gundogan.

    The Germany midfielder now has seven league goals this term - the first of which came in the previous West Brom clash, kickstarting a superb spell - to make this his best ever scoring season.

    Cancelo capitalises

    Neither the officials nor the West Brom defenders came out of City's second goal well.

    Sian Massey-Ellis correctly initially kept her flag down despite believing Silva was offside but then inexplicably indicated for the decision when City were still on the attack inside the area.

    But the whistle did not blow until the ball hit the net and there was little excuse for West Brom's static defending, their porous back line now having conceded 29 home goals - more than any other team in Europe's 'top five' leagues - after the five here.

    What's next?

    City will hope to run up another handsome total at home to basement side Sheffield United on Saturday. West Brom have a huge clash with Fulham, where they will aim to end a five-game losing run at home.

  • Sevilla sign one of Europe's best creators as Gomez and Atalanta part ways Sevilla sign one of Europe's best creators as Gomez and Atalanta part ways

    Alejandro Gomez's seven-year association with Atalanta is over after their former captain completed a move to Sevilla.

    Gomez, 32, joined Atalanta from Metalist Kharkiv in 2014 and was a key factor in the club's rise from mid-table also-rans to regular top-four challengers.

    He became captain in 2017 after a personal-best haul of 16 Serie A goals in 2016-17 and then skippered the club to their highest-ever top-flight finish of third in 2018-19.

    They repeated the feat in 2019-20 and Gomez, whose 16 assists was the most by any player in a single Serie A season this century, was named the league's best midfielder in the end-of-season awards.

    But Gomez and coach Gian Piero Gasperini reportedly fell out earlier this season, with Italian media claiming the player had refused to carry out the manager's orders in the 1-1 Champions League draw with Midtjylland.

    Speculation was rife throughout December about whether the pair would be able to repair their relationship or if Gomez was on his way out, with Inter initially thought to be his likeliest of options.

    But more recently Italian publications suggested Atalanta were keen to offload him to a foreign team, and Sevilla – whom Gomez had previously suggested were his favourite Spanish team – made their move.

    The talented attacker, who can play on the left flank or behind the striker, signed a contract until June 2024 on Tuesday.

    He is an Argentina team-mate of current Sevilla players Lucas Ocampos and Marcos Acuna, and was given his Albiceleste bow by the club's former coach Jorge Sampaoli.

    Sevilla will hope Gomez can serve them as effectively he did Atalanta in the main – from the start of 2018-19 until December 16, when he last featured in Serie A for the Bergamo side, no player across Europe's big five leagues played more key passes than his 233.

    Similarly, his 29 assists across the same period was bettered by only Thomas Muller (36), Lionel Messi (34) and Jadon Sancho (33). There were also only five players to create more Opta-defined "big chances" than his 40 in that time.

  • Chelsea confirm Tuchel as Lampard successor Chelsea confirm Tuchel as Lampard successor

    Thomas Tuchel has been appointed Chelsea head coach following the dismissal of Frank Lampard.

    Chelsea have handed former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss Tuchel a contract initially until the end of next season.

    The 47-year-old had been out of work since being sacked by PSG in December.

    Chelsea confirmed on their official website: "Thomas Tuchel has been appointed as the new Chelsea head coach."

    Tuchel said: "I would like to thank Chelsea FC for their confidence in me and my staff.

    "We all have the greatest respect for Frank Lampard's work and the legacy he created at Chelsea. At the same time, I cannot wait to meet my new team and compete in the most exciting league in football. I am grateful to now be part of the Chelsea family - it feels amazing!"

    Chelsea said there was a "possibility" of Tuchel securing an extended stay at Stamford Bridge, and director Marina Granovskaia urged him to grasp an opportunity to deliver instant success this season.

    She said: "It is never easy to change head coach in the middle of the season but we are very happy to secure one of Europe's best coaches in Thomas Tuchel.

    "There is still much to play for and much to achieve, this season and beyond. We welcome Thomas to the club."

    Tuchel took training at Chelsea on Tuesday evening as he immediately began work with the squad.

    Chelsea will be keen for Tuchel to make a quick impact on the pitch, with the Blues having let Lampard go after a run of two wins in eight Premier League matches.

    They face Wolves at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday before entertaining Burnley in the top flight on Sunday.

    Despite leading PSG to a first Champions League final, where they were defeated 1-0 by Bayern Munich in August, Tuchel was replaced by Mauricio Pochettino after overseeing four Ligue 1 defeats before the 2020-21 mid-season break. PSG were third, a point behind Lyon and Lille, when Tuchel was ousted.

    The German won two Ligue 1 titles, the Trophee des Champions twice, the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue during his two and a half years at the helm in Paris.

    Prior to that he spent two years with Dortmund, winning the DFB-Pokal in 2016-17 but failing to dethrone Bayern in the Bundesliga.

    He left both his previous positions following an apparent breakdown in relations with senior leadership figures.

    Tuchel had a disagreement with Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke after a Champions League game against Monaco was pushed back by just one day after the Bundesliga side's bus was attacked.

    At PSG he was involved in a public dispute with sporting director Leonardo over the club's transfer policy and reportedly claimed he felt more like "a politician rather than a coach", though he later said that remark was mistranslated.

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